Banksy Encourages Shoplifters To Target Guess Flagship For Using His Art To Sell Their Clothes.

Graffiti activist caught up in a dispute over the monetization of his artwork in copyright row.


It's clever, really. Banksy going after the clothing empire GUESS themselves would mean jeopardizing decades of intentional anonymity. A copyright checkmate. Rather than lifting the veil of the infamous graffiti artist known for his controversial yet revered statements around the world, Banksy took to Instagram to rally supporters and shoplifters to target the store after launching their new collection featuring "graffiti by Banksy." The store has since temporarily closed its doors, heightened security, and covered the Banksy-leaden window display.

GUESS chief creative officer Paul Marciano stated that the company did consider itself in possession of commercial rights over the merchandise: "the graffiti of Banksy has been a phenomenal influence that resonates throughout popular culture. This new capsule collection with Brandalised is a way for fashion to show its gratitude". 

GUESS launched the collection in collaboration with Brandalised, a third party that claims to hold the rights to commercialize and trade Banksy's artwork. This is despite a subsidiary of Brandalised engaging in a copyright dispute with Banksy last year, whereby the artist lost the trademark dispute partially due to his wish to remain anonymous, as, without identification, he would be unable to own or protect art under copyright laws. 



A post shared by GUESS (@guess)


Representatives from Brandalised are yet to comment on the events beyond posting an Instagram, using Banksy's 2012 statement against him: "any graffiti in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It belongs to you. It's yours to take, rearrange and re-use. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at you".

Responses to the retail empire and notorious street artist butting heads have swung between a vehement call to arms to defend Banksy's honor versus criticizing the encouragement of shoplifting. GUESS claiming the collaboration to appreciate Banksy's impact nonetheless directly opposes the artist's wish to remain anonymous and to protect against the capitalist profiteering off of these visual political statements. Additionally, Banksy would not receive any profits generated by this "gratitude." Despite the alleged plagiarism and closure of the store, the fall/winter 2022 collection remains purchasable online.